May 11, 2019

Joseph "Joey" Starnes, M.D., MPH, was awarded the Sten H. Vermund Award for Excellence in Global Health. This award recognizes the graduating medical student who has most demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the health of the people of or from a low- or middle-income country through distinguished scholarship, education, and/or contributions to the improvement of clinical care. The award was established in 2017, to honor Dr. Sten H. Vermund who was the founding director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health.

Dr. Starnes matriculated at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) in 2014 after receiving his undergraduate degree (B.A.) in molecular and cellular biology from Vanderbilt University. He received both his MPH and MD degrees from VUSM in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Joey will continue his training at Vanderbilt with a pediatric residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

During his time as a medical student, Joey engaged with the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) and participated in many VIGH- sponsored student activities. Notably in 2018 and 2019, he spearheaded the local Global Health Symposium, which drew over 30 poster presentations from students, faculty, and staff. Throughout his time at VUSM, he helped promote global health among Vanderbilt students through planning and contributing to the annual Global Health Case Competition and World Health Week. Through his involvement in VIGH’s Student Advisory Council and a multi-year internship at Lwala Community Alliance, he mentored many students, including Vanderbilt Master of Public Health (MPH) students. In particular, he mentored students on their thesis work related to Lwala Community Alliance’s health initiatives and was a leader in the VIGH Student Advisory Council as an undergraduate. 

In 2018, Joey received the MPH degree in the Global Health track from VUSM. He completed his MPH practicum at two sites, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization (WHO). At the WHO, he helped write a policy brief, “Innovation Towards Integrated People-Centered Health Services (IPCHS),” which stemmed from a World Health Assembly declaration and framework aiming to shift health systems toward a more people-centered approach. Joey’s MPH thesis, “Reduction in Under-Five Mortality in the Rongo Sub-County of Migori County, Kenya: Experience of the Lwala Community Alliance 2007-2017 with Evidence from a Cross-Sectional Survey,” resulted from his internship in the U.S. offices of the Lwala Community Alliance, in which he contributed substantially to managing their household survey data, designing questions to ask of the data, conducting data analyses, and writing results for dissemination.

Below is a brief biography of Joey’s contributions to global health while attending medical school at Vanderbilt.

  • M.D., MPH
  • Campus activities
    • VUSM’s Global Health Organization, co-president 2015-2019
      • Organized annual World Health Week
    • VIGH’s Student Advisory Council, leader 2015-2019
      • Conceived & led the 2019 student Global Health Symposium
      • Senior leader for the annual Vanderbilt Global Health Case Competition
    • Shade Tree Clinic (student-run clinic in Nashville), 2012-present (including co-president)
  • Publications
    • 7 publications, including 2 in global health (Lwala under 5 mortality and Safe anesthesia in Western Kenya)
  • National and/or international presentations
    • Society of Student-run Free Clinics, 2017 (3 posters)
    • International Anesthesia Research Society, 2015 & 2017
    • WHO, 2017
    • American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017 & 2018
    • Pediatric Hospital Medicine Conference, 2019
  • Graduate assistantship with Lwala Community Alliance, 2016-2018 (unofficially ongoing)